Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Evaluation Issues. 3.4 Evaluation Facilitators


Staff enthusiasm, families' goodwill, and related program experience can support PAS evaluation.

Given this discouragingly long list of barriers to evaluation, it is reasonable to ask whether any characteristics of PAS programs might facilitate evaluation. Based on case-study interviews, several are apparent. The relative youth of the PAS field, and its recent surge in federal funding, has given rise to a ferment of new approaches. First, adoption program managers, together with PAS coordinators and providers, have a genuine curiosity about "what works?" and "is this an improvement on other approaches?" Evaluations that respond to this appetite for program improvement could garner substantial cooperation in spite of the evaluation barriers described above. Second, adoptive parents (a major source of data for such evaluations) have an enormous investment in adoption-related topics and are often ready participants in evaluation. PAS program staff are appropriately protective of parents' time and goodwill, and supportive of their desires to normalize family life. However, experience in this study and others suggests that many adoptive parents are open to participating in efforts that will support and improve PAS programs. Finally, although PAS programs are relatively new, they can draw upon evaluation experiences in other areas of child and family services, and on the existence of psychometrically tested instruments for both children and families. Use of these instruments allows considerable streamlining of evaluation design, as well as the opportunity for comparability across evaluations.

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